Lucky Plush Productions will celebrate our 15th Anniversary with the creation of a new dance-theater work, Trip the Light Fantastic: The Making of SuperStrip.
Commissioned by Chicago’s Harris Theater for Music and Dance and the Pamela Crutchfield Dance Fund of the Imagine Campaign, the newest evening-length work from Lucky Plush draws from classic pulp novels and comic books in a blend of dance, theater and visual design that moves between live performance and projected video in unexpected ways. Trip the Light Fantastic: The Making of SuperStrip will premiere Thursday, March 3, 2016, marking Lucky Plush Productions’ debut at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance.
Though Rhoads finds inspiration from classic pulp superheroes, and has fun weaving in riffs on the exhausting trend of hyper-personal branding via social media, the themes of SuperStrip are particularly relevant to her experience leading a non-profit organization. “So often organized efforts to effect change - to improve workplace, community, or more broadly to make the world a better place - can be incredibly circular, stunted by non-consensus, or limited by the politics that frame the efforts,” explained Rhoads. “While the characters of SuperStrip are invested in deeply held values, they are challenged to uphold their importance within contemporary platforms that support empty self-promotion and flavor-of-the-day innovation, like so many people today from all walks of life.” Ultimately, SuperStrip reveals how communication—physical, verbal, and online—is constructed, laid bare, breaks down, and evolves within small, and often insular, communities.
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is supporting the creation of Trip the Light Fantastic: The Making of SuperStrip through funding a series of creative residencies for the company to allow the development of the technology and movement vocabulary that is unique to the project. SuperStrip is also supported through a production residency at Martha's Vineyard's The Yard, and preview performances at Hope College.
Calendar note: Support from the Harris and its Imagine Campaign will also help Lucky Plush Productions bring the company’s work to new and larger audiences. To that end, Lucky Plush will perform a 45-minute program of selections from its repertoire on Thursday, November 19 at 6 p.m. at The Harris as part of its popular Eat+Drink to the Beat series.
2014 - 15 Supporters
Additional project and season support for Lucky Plush Productions is provided by: Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, the Grover Hermann Foundation, the Alphawood Foundation, the MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Peter G. & Elizabeth Torosian Foundation, the Lester and Hope Abelson Fund for the Performing Arts and the Illinois Arts Council Agency.
2014, Links Hall @ Constellation, ChicagoEqual parts dance and theater, The Queue unfolds in a fictional airport, where travelers stumble humorously, tragically and awkwardly into each others’ private lives. Created by Lucky Plush founder/director Julia Rhoads and collaborator Leslie Danzig, The Queue finds its influences in early 20th-century forms of slapstick, vaudeville, Busby Berkeley-style choreography, creaky one-act plays and a 1746 farcical play about a family inheritance. These sources and performance vocabularies collide with contemporary dance and the distinctly non-theatrical context of waiting to create a dance-theater production, showcasing Lucky Plush’s signature blend of immediacy, humor and kineticism.
Lucky Plush presents dance theater work that is richly and uncompromisingly layered, and delivers the work in inviting and relatable ways. The company is often recognized for its complex choreography, surprising humor and incisive commentary on contemporary culture. In Lucky Plush, Julia Rhoads has created a company that is committed to provoking and supporting an immediacy of presence—a palpable liveness—shared by performers in real-time with the audience.
2012, Spring to Dance Festival - Dance St. Louis
Lucky Plush Productions revisits the distinctive world of its critically acclaimed Cinderbox 18 (2007, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago) with a fresh spin. Taking a cue from media's voyeuristic approach to "reality," Cinderbox 2.0 explores the comedy and anxiety in our hyper-networked culture through a fragmented narrative, witty commentary, and a performance that blurs the distinctions between observer and observed, personal and presentational, scripted and off-the-cuff. The choreography is built upon incremental gestures that accumulate and dissolve in unexpected ways for a performance that is vulnerable, oddly familiar, and wonderfully surprising. In collaboration with artistic director Julia Rhoads, Cinderbox 2.0 features an original score by composer Michael Caskey.
The Better Half
2011, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
This lively spin on the noir classic Gaslight playfully captures the claustrophobia, escapist tendencies and resilience in domestic relationships, in a dance theater language full of surprising turns and contemporary resonance. The Better Half is co-created and co-directed by Lucky Plush’s Artistic Director Julia Rhoads and Leslie Buxbaum Danzig of 500 Clown.
If...Then I Am Here
Info coming soon...
In the Middle, Somewhat Replicated
Info coming soon...
2010, Spring to Dance, St. Louis
Referred to as "fresh and supremely present" after its premiere at Spring to Dance in St. Louis, Habituation unpacks the seemingly reflexive nature of the movements that we do every day, raising questions about influence, originality, and the ties between preference, habit, and creative choice.
2009, The Dance Center of Columbia College
Punk Yankees is a provocative and entertaining dance theater work that combines live performance, video, and the internet to unpack ideas about authenticity, originality, and the ownership of dance in the digital age. With the controversial nature of dealing with issues of intellectual property, the work takes on challenging topics including sampling, mash-ups, stylistic referencing, impersonation, unconscious theft, lineage, cultural appropriation, and ideas about "fair use" in dance. Featured in the Chicago Reader's "Best of Chicago 2010" for Best Commentary on Modern Technology by a Choreographer, "the fast-paced, witty Punk Yankees…is fundamentally paradoxical, tongue-in-cheek, subversive, and, best of all, great fun."
The Sky Hangs Down Too Close
2008, The Galaxie
"What moves you?" This is the guiding question behind Lucky Plush Productions' The Sky Hangs Down Too Close, a work created by Associate Director Peter Carpenter. Conceived in response to the themes of conflict and desire in Bertolt Brecht's stark drama, In the Jungle of Cities (1924), this darkly satirical dance-theatre work reckons with the seductive and powerful forces that move us everyday. In The Sky Hangs Down Too Close, Carpenter develops arresting images that recall-often comically-the bizarre and shifting ways in which power articulates itself in both public and private interactions. Creating the work in collaboration with a cast of seven veteran ensemble members, Carpenter focuses on the concept of "unmotivated struggle"-a key theme for Brecht-as a way to understand the ways in which we move and are moved. In this, the piece critiques patterns within the social world and simultaneously recognizes the physical labor and symbolic potency of the dancing body.
2007, Museum of Contemporary Art
Cinderbox takes its cue from the media's voyeuristic approach to "reality" to explore the comedy and anxiety in our hyper-networked culture. With a specific curiosity in the purportedly unscripted and fly-on-the-wall observational style of reality TV, the work both exploits and makes indistinct the live and virtual, private and public, observer and observed, improvised and choreographed, and the highly presentational and minutely subtle. Athletic choreography, video, dialogue, and a "show within a show" characterize this complex and interactive environment shaped by the media technologies that alter our perception of how reality is generated.
2007, Ruth Page Foundation
She/Three is an evening length choreographic triptych that muses on the shared and distinct qualities of three Shakespearean women - Juliet, Lady Macbeth, and Ophelia - through the point of view of three different artists- Brian Jeffery, Marianne Kim, and Peter Carpenter- utilizing dance, performance video, and theater. The lead artists, along with Lucky Plush Artistic Director Julia Rhoads, share a distinct history of collaboration through their affiliation with XSIGHT! Performance Group, a dance-theater company that was a unique and vital part of Chicago's dance community from 1985-2000.
2005, The Dance Center of Columbia College
Lulu Sleeps is an evening-length work reflecting the elusive residue of dreams. With visual design elements of sculptor D Christopher Krause, costume designer Lara Miller, lighting designer Margaret Nelson, and video artists John Boesche and Logan Kibens, the stage becomes a visual playing field where dream archetypes and compelling physicality intersect. Set to an original score by composer Mark Messing and Kevin O'Donnell, Lulu Sleeps journeys through the poetic and absurd nature of dreams.
Jumping off from images and themes in the most common recurring dreams (falling, flying, sex, death/decay, the situation where everyone else knows what is happening but you), Lulu Sleeps spins out into a non-linear dreamscape filled with rich and evocative movement and imagery. The Chicago Tribune refers to Lulu Sleeps as "Dreams re-imagined through a mysterious psychophysical language…an experience that is quite mesmerizing," and the Chicago Reader notes, "Funny, grotesque, or strikingly lyrical, Rhoads's choreography is beautifully executed."
2006, Athenaeum Theatre; 2005, PAC/Edge; 2003, Vittum Theater
Initially conceived as a response to a child's fascination with a helium balloon - an object full of fragility, beauty, and tension - Surrelium offers visual metaphors for the ways we experience confinement and release, enchantment and transformation. The work has 6 distinct sections, and together they offer a "transformed, alternate reality with optical illusions, complex composition, and delicate yet powerful movement that seems to take place in another stratosphere." (Chicago Sun Times). The Chicago Tribune referred to Surrelium as "Indefinable moments of beauty, wit, and fire…It's as if Degas and Magritte showed up in each other's dreams to playfully toss around images of the twisted and the sublime."
2004, Vittum Theater
Co-created by Julia Rhoads and Krenly Guzman in collaboration with the performers, Shift looks at the physical language of texture and its translation into movement. The textural changes in performers' bodies continually alter their relationships to each other and create a movement landscape with a heightened sense of detail.
In the spring of 2004 Lucky Plush Productions and Walkabout Theater Company collaborated to produce an orginial performance, Voyaging, based on Charles Darwin and his world-changing voyage on the HMS Beagle. Dance, theater, music and visual design burst the boundaries of traditional biography looking at social behavior, class structure and biological attraction in light of evolution and natural selection. Voyaging was made possible in part by Elizabeth F. Cheney and the Chicago Community Trust project specific grants.
2003, Athenaeum Theater
Conceived and directed by Julia Rhoads, Endplay uses Samuel Beckett's "Come and Go" as a point of departure. The piece highlights a group of characters whose rituals and games serve as a means of affirming themselves as they are lost in a cycle of endless repetition.
2002, Athenaeum Theater
One of our shorter repertory works, Reverie utilizes 2 live-feed cameras – one from a birds-eye perspective – as well as pre-recorded footage of the work to evoke the illogical time frame experienced in a dreamlike state.
Beneath the Surface
2001, Chicago's Union Station
In the Great Hall of Chicago's Union Station in September 2001, Lucky Plush presented a durational installation work as well as a dance film, both titled Beneath the Surface as a part of M5's Chaos. Collaborating sculptors from M5 created multiple projection surfaces for the video components of the installation.
2001, Fairbanks, Alaska
Co-created and directed by Julia Rhoads and Holly Rothschild, Bedtime Stores draws upon pop culture archetypes such as Cinderella & Snow White, as well as the intimate and introspective aspects of sleep and human interaction.
Meet Them and Wonder/Vermillion Falls
2000, Fermilab Arts Presenter Series
Co-created and directed by Julia Rhoads and Holly Rothschild, Meet Them and Wonder and Vermillion Falls were first presented at the Fermilab Arts Presenter Series in April 2001 with Hubbard Street 2 and Jump Rhythm Jazz Project, and later as part of "LadyFest Midwest," a festival given critics choice in the Chicago Reader where Kerry Reid referred to Lucky Plush as "cleverly lunatic."
Rituals of Polite Seduction
2000, Hamlin Park Fieldhouse
Both dance-theater work and social satire, our first evening-length work Rituals of Polite Seduction is an absurdist take on gender roles and unfulfilled fantasies through a surprising collision of genres. Noted for its humor and unexpected elements of transformation, Rituals of Polite Seduction reflects on socialization and instinct without simplifying traditional arguments or reinforcing stereotypes.
2001, Athenaeum Theater
"Lucky Plush Productions choreographed and performed [Swinesong], one of Dance Chicago's most entertaining pieces…It is evident that they share a penchant for theatrical work, adept at both provocative and humorous material." -PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art
1999, Ruth Page Series
Co-created and directed by Julia Rhoads and Holly Rothschild, Royal Flush is the first of our shorter works. Royal Flush was nominated for a Ruth Page Award for "Choreography and Performance of the Year."